"Day Without Immigrants" Hits Atlanta's Korean Business Community

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A labor strike organized by immigrants rights activists in Atlanta protesting House Bill 87, which took effect Friday and targets the state's undocumented population, took a major toll on the city's Korean businesses, reports the Korea Daily in Atlanta.

According to the report, the strike, dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants," took its greatest toll on Korean-owned retailers in the city, most of whom heavily rely on labor provided by Georgia's rising Latino population. The manager of one market in the city of Duluth said that only fifteen of his 50 employees showed up to work that day.

"All the employees that came in that day had to rotate shifts to cover for those who didn't show," said Kyung-suk Kim, adding that if similar strikes occur again it will have a serious impact on the company's bottom line.

Assi Mart, also Korean-owned, operates a store in Duluth and another in Shawnee. Operators there say none of their 60 plus employees showed up to work that day. A store representative noted, however, that the real problem was not periodic strikes by workers but the decline in Latino store patrons, a result of the flight from the state by Latino residents following the passage of Arizona-style anti-immigrant legislation.

Gyu-jin Im is director of the Korean Voter Center in Atlanta. He says that the influence of groups like the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, which organized Friday's strike, extend to other communities as well, including Koreans.

Baek-gyu Kim, who runs an association of Korean food distributors, says the likelihood of a repeat strike is high and that Korean business owners should look to diversify their labor pool in order to avoid the negative effects of a repeat strike.